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SWIMSATIONAL! - Relay Standouts Already Making History
3-13 OAK Swim1
Returning section medalist Soren Dickens heaves through the water in this breast stroke during a meet with Ripon. Now a sophomore, Dickens is looking for an even stronger season than he enjoyed as a freshman. - photo by IKE DODSON/THE LEADER

Members of the 400 yard boys freestyle relay team from Oakdale High’s 2009 swim program may need to sit down for this.

Oakdale High ‘swimsations’ Soren Dickens, Adam Lahey, Ryan Jones and Will Cavanaugh cruised past the school record in that event by 12 one-hundredths of a second to surpass the 2009 group and etch their name amongst Mustang lore.

They did it in Oakdale’s second meet of the season.

“Depending on how they handle the postseason, that team could be really good,” Oakdale coach Russ Van Cleave said. “I think they are going to keep breaking that record.”

The foursome hit their record mark during a first-place romp through Oakdale’s host March Madness Invitational on March 9. Oakdale boys also won the 200 medley relay and 200 free relay while Dickens won the 100 breast stroke.

“Our boys have a lot of depth and things are going really well for them,” said Van Cleave. “They really stand out on those relays.”

The same four also stood out during Oakdale’s Valley Oak League meet with Ripon on March 8. The short-handed Mustang girls scrambled for an 89-81 win while the Oakdale boys notched a 111-59 shellacking.

Dickens (200 individual medley), Lahey (200 free), Jones (100 fly) and Cavanaugh (100 free) all landed individual victories in the meet and joined together for victories in both the 400 and 200 free relays and the 200 medley relay. They never lost.

The Oakdale girls competed without freestyle swimmer Shelby Stender, who was committed to a water polo event. Stender is one of the top returning talents on a girls unit that graduated the talents of Stevie Cordoza, Savannah Stender and Alyssa Burford.

Oakdale’s top returning girl is sophomore Summer Thompson, who made the top 25 at last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section Masters Trials in the varsity 100 breast.

Thompson was second in the 100 breast at March Madness, handily won the event in the Ripon meet, took the 200 I.M. and led two relay teams to victory. Katie Vanderburg joined two winning relay teams and won the 100 fly as well.

Ripon won several events and threatened to beat the Lady Mustangs, but were out-touched on several close races to surrender Oakdale position on another league title.

“We did not think we were going to be able to beat Ripon with Shelby gone, but Melissa Meyer (girls coach) had a really good game plan,” Van Cleave said. “It worked really well.”

Oakdale’s girls squad will rely on the success of strong swimmers Ali Poff, Kaitlin Golding, Cece Hurst, Rhonda Vanderburg and Aleksaandra Courtney to anchor down the team depth.

The boys have greater depth, but need underclassmen Joseph Guerrero (first in the 100 breast against Ripon), Ben Kirby, Rhett Harrison, Jared Kahler, Spencer Lee and Cameron Elswick to perform well.

Van Cleave said his underclassmen have allowed the team to put together strong ‘B’ relay teams also capable of scoring match points.

Dickens was sixth at last year’s SJS Finals in the 100 breast. He was the fastest freshman in the section. He represents Oakdale’s best shot at another section medal.

Oakdale is at Manteca on Friday, March 22, to continue the conference schedule.